[Earlier this month, I began teaching my graduate American Historical Fiction: Practice and Theory class for the fifth time, this time entirely online. So this week I’ll briefly highlight (busy with teaching and all) a handful of exemplary historical fictions and related contexts. Share your own favorite historical fictions or authors for a boundary-blurring crowd-sourced weekend post, please!]
Today’s nominee for an amazing American historical novel is James Michener’s Hawaii (1959).
It’s fair to say, using the categories for which I argued in Monday’s post, that Michener’s best-selling historical epics are more period fiction than historical fiction—he’s certainly most interested in human experiences and relationships, rather than in thorny questions of American history per se. But on the other hand, his novels are multi-period, tracing centuries of community and identity in each of his focal places, and that makes them both unique and in and of themselves historically grounded (and researched) in every effective ways. Most any of those epics could have been my focus here, but Hawaii was really his first in this category, and exemplifies his talents and successes for sure.
Last historical fiction tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Other historical fictions or authors you’d highlight?
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